Meet the Building Movement Project team and staff.
The BMP Staff is comprised of committed individuals who bring a diversity of professional backgrounds and expertise to the organization's work on leadership, movement building, and service and social change.
Frances Kunreuther co-directs the Building Movement Project, strengthening U.S. nonprofits as sites of civic engagement and social change. She is co-author of two books, From the Ground Up: Grassroots Organizations Making Social Change (Cornell, 2006) and Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership (Jossey Bass, 2009). Frances was a senior fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University for five years and is currently affiliated with the Research Center for Leadership and Action at NYU where she also teaches. In the 1990s, Frances headed the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LBGT youth and was awarded an Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellowship for her work with homeless youth and families, undocumented immigrants, crime victims, battered women, and substance users. She writes and presents frequently on issues related to nonprofits, leadership, and social change.
Sean Thomas-Breitfeld co-directs the Building Movement Project, with a special focus on BMP’s work on service and social change. Prior to joining the BMP staff, Sean spent a decade working in various roles at the Center for Community Change (CCC). At CCC, he developed training programs for grassroots leaders, worked in CCC’s communications and policy departments where he coordinated online and grassroots advocacy efforts, and lobbied on a range of issues, including immigration reform, transportation equity, and anti-poverty programs. Before joining the center, Sean worked as a policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza, where he focused on employment and income security issues. Sean holds a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and a bachelor’s degree in social work and multicultural studies from St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
Senior Research Associate
As senior research associate, Ofronama works on national projects focused on leadership, including Race to Lead reports, service and social change, and movement building. She also works on place-based projects in Detroit and New Mexico. Previously, Ofronama was a senior research associate at the NYC Labor Market Information Service at the CUNY Graduate Center where she directed research projects on trends impacting the social services and middle-skill healthcare workforce. Ofronama has over 10 years’ experience in higher education and nonprofit organizations. Her experience includes project management, program evaluation, partnership building, employer engagement, and direct service to participants. She co-founded a nonprofit organization that connects youth to media professionals for skills-building and mentoring opportunities. Ofronama is a Ph.D. candidate at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School. Her research interests include labor market and workforce development policies and racial stratification. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the NYU College of Arts and Science and a Masters of Public Administration from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service.
Director, Detroit Peoples Platform
Linda S. Campbell
Linda Campbell works on Building Movement Project’s Nonprofits and Social Change project with groups in Detroit, Michigan, and throughout the U.S. and Canada. Linda leads Building Movement Detroit and provides technical assistance and capacity building to nonprofit agencies and resident-led organizations. Prior to her consulting work, Linda served in a variety of senior and executive positions in the nonprofit and government sectors. She was the executive director for one of NYC’s oldest AIDS service organizations, Minority Task Force on AIDS, and a senior director at both the Michigan Public Health Institute and the National Center for Health Education. She served as a founding board member for several community-based nonprofits. In the past two years, Linda has provided planning assistance to local African American Health Institute initiatives in Michigan. Linda holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan.
After working with the Building Movement Project as the research and data intern, Tessa joined the BMP staff full-time as a research analyst. Before joining BMP, Tessa worked as a student researcher at Carthage College where she collaborated with the Shalom Center local food pantry, using data analysis and mapping software to target areas of need in the local inner city, eventually establishing a series of hot meal sites for local food pantry recipients. Tessa has four years of research experience, including a series of large-scale surveys on perceptions of diversity, equity, and inclusion within a higher education campus community. Tessa received a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Carthage College in Kenosha, W.I. in 2018 and her master’s from Columbia University in sociology in 2019, where her research interests mainly centered on indigenous peoples’ rights, particularly indigenous language revitalization.
Senior Advisor and Director of Solidarity Is
Deepa Iyer is a Senior Advisor at Building Movement Project and Director of Solidarity Is, a project that provides training, narratives, and resources on building deep and lasting multiracial solidarity. Iyer is a South Asian American writer, lawyer, strategist, facilitator, and activist whose areas of expertise include the post 9/11 America experiences of South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants, immigration and civil rights policies, and racial equity and solidarity practices. Iyer has worked at various national and local organizations with a focus on immigrant and racial justice. She served as executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for a decade and has also held positions at Race Forward, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, and the Asian American Justice Center. Iyer’s first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press 2015), received a 2016 American Book Award. She hosts a podcast called Solidarity Is This to explore solidarity practices around the country. Iyer has received fellowships from Open Society Foundations and the Social Change Initiative, and in 2019, she received an honorary doctoral degree from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Iyer serves on the Advisory Council of the Emergent Fund, which resources grassroots organizing and power building in communities of color who are facing injustice based on racial, ethnic, religious, and other forms of discrimination. An immigrant who moved to Kentucky from India when she was twelve, Iyer graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School and Vanderbilt University.
Catherine joined the Building Movement Project in 2019 as the Project Assistant.
In addition to serving as the Administrative and Social Media Intern at BMP in 2016, Catherine has worked extensively in the editorial field, including with digital news platforms, Heather Jackson Literary Agency, and Oxford University Press. While at OUP, she served as Editorial Assistant and then Assistant Editor on projects within the African American Studies Center, Oxford Islamic Studies Online, Oxford Biblical Studies Online, and Grove Art Online. Catherine graduated from New York University with a degree in English and American Literature as well as a minor in Spanish, and her studies and passions have focused on the ways science fiction, and language itself, can inform and drive social justice movements.
New Mexico Coordinator
Leah Steimel coordinates New Mexico-based program efforts for Building Movement Project and has guided the development and implementation of the Common Good Action Project (CGAP) since its inception in 2015. Steimel has worked in the field of community health for over 30 years, with an emphasis on program design and policy advocacy to serve underserved and marginalized populations. After working in Latin America for eight years, she moved to New Mexico in 1995 where she led programs and initiatives at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center focused on addressing health disparities and access to care for immigrants, Native Americans, and adults living in poverty. Steimel then served as executive director of a non-profit organization serving immigrants in southeast Albuquerque, and as executive director of a free clinic for uninsured children in Santa Fe, NM, before returning to UNM in 2006 as founding director of the Office of Community Affairs. There, she facilitated broad stakeholder participation in program planning and advocacy to leverage public funding for a new community-based program to connect poor and disconnected adults to health and social services. The program, Pathways to a Healthy Bernalillo County, has continuously operated through local nonprofit organizations for over 10 years and has served thousands of adults in the city. Steimel formed an independent consultant business in 2013 and works with nonprofit organizations and government entities. Steimel received a Master’s degree from Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine in 1989.
Networks and Learning Practice Coordinator
Olivia Peña is excited to support communities and networks across the country as the Networks and Learning Practice Coordinator. Before joining the Building Movement Project, Olivia supported food security initiatives across the state of Vermont through outreach, capacity building for social service providers, and advocacy to strengthen access to SNAP, WIC, and school meal programs. She studied at the University of Vermont, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Systems in 2017, and a Master’s Degree in Food Systems in 2018. Olivia has supported and published research on state, regional, national, and international levels on topics including community engagement, resilience, advocacy, and climate change mitigation. As a passionate community advocate, Olivia is committed to supporting equity and access to basic human needs such as food, housing, and healthcare.
The BMP Project Team (PT) advises the organization on its strategic direction and provides input on members expertise and experience in the nonprofit and philanthrophic sectors.
Associate Director of Learning and Evaluation - The Duke Endowment
Laila Bell is the associate director of learning and evaluation at The Duke Endowment. Before joining the Endowment in 2017, Bell was director of research and data at NC Child, a statewide nonprofit in Raleigh advancing public policies that improve the lives of North Carolina’s children. Prior to NC Child, Bell worked from 2010 to 2013 as the director of research and data at Action for Children North Carolina and previously served as an analyst for the Texas KIDS COUNT project at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Laila worked at the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) where she researched public policy, evidence-based practices, and the impact of family violence on children. During her tenure at TCFV, Laila created the Texas Family Violence Service Directory, an interactive tool that connects service providers to information about curricula and best practices. A native of South Carolina, Laila holds a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a bachelor’s degree with double majors in political science and psychology from Winthrop University.
Coach - The Management Center
Marissa Graciosa joined the Building Movement Project in 2019 as senior advisor and project team member, bringing her many years of experience in community organizing, coalition building, and racial justice. Prior to joining BMP, she held several roles at Planned Parenthood Federation of America as the director of strategic initiatives, spearheading the internal racial equity transformation for the advocacy division, and as the national director of organizing providing leadership through unprecedented attacks at the state and federal levels. Before joining PPFA, she worked for over a decade in the immigrant rights movement; as the director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) at the Center for Community Change, and in national efforts led by the Alliance for Citizenship and the Reform Immigration for America Campaign. She played key roles in the mass immigrant mobilizations of 2006 and 2010 and helped build organizing and electoral capacity in key states through training, coaching, and strategic consulting. She has led numerous issue and political campaigns, including a Chicago aldermanic race, the non-partisan voter registration, and mobilization work of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Marissa received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Chicago and Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She lives in Chicago with her beautiful blended family, including a feisty toddler, Emiliano.
Executive Vice President of Public Affairs - The New Teacher Project
As executive vice president of public affairs, David McKinney sets the vision, culture, and goals of The New Teacher Project’s communications and community engagement efforts. Prior to this role, David served as the first director of the Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building at the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities in Washington, D.C., and supported a network of nearly 500 organizations to more effectively engage with the neighborhoods and constituencies they served. He previously worked at Public Allies, a national service and leadership development organization, where he held numerous positions including vice president of programs and vice president of strategy and development. During his 14-year tenure with Public Allies, David led the growth of the organization’s programming and operations from 10 to 23 cities and increased opportunities for young adults to launch and grow their careers in community-based and social sector organizations. David was honored with an Aspen Institute Fellowship for emerging nonprofit leaders in 2010 and selected by Independent Sector as an American Express NGen Fellow in 2009. David began his career as a community organizer in his hometown of Milwaukee and holds a bachelor’s degree in education policy and community studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Building Community Portfolio Director - Meyer Memorial Trust
Dahnesh Medora, Building Community Portfolio Director at Meyer, is motivated to find ways to contribute and learn at the same time. His passion for exploring ways to connect ideas and influences that originate from different places drew Dahnesh to join Meyer in 2015. Having the benefit of growing up with different cultural influences and working with a variety of organizations and leaders, he cultivated a taste for variety and combinations. He believes nonprofit and social benefit organizations address our community’s most pressing needs and building their capacity builds our collective capacity to create lasting social change. Prior to joining Meyer, Dahnesh served as the senior associate for nonprofit support at Education Northwest, providing capacity building and leadership development support to nonprofits and governmental agencies at the local, state, and national level. As director of programs and senior consultant at the Nonprofit Association of Oregon and as director of organizational services at the National Community Development Institute, Dahnesh designed and managed capacity building programs focused on communities of color. Dahnesh also supported new and emerging social justice projects while serving as director of external relations at Tides.
Executive Vice President - Community Coalition
Aurea Montes-Rodriguez is the executive vice president at Community Coalition and has been with the organization for more than 20 years. Born in Mexico and raised in south Los Angeles, Aurea has been a key leader responsible for building the organization’s youth programs to fight for educational equity, leading efforts to keep children in family care and out of the foster care system, helping to build organizing capacity in south L.A., and leading a capital campaign to transform the organization’s headquarters into a state-of-the-art hub for community organizing. Aurea is co-founder of Partners for Children South LA, a multiagency initiative that improves child development and reduces the risk of involvement with the child welfare system. She is an ex-officio board member with InnerCity Struggle.
Simran Noor is an independent consultant focused on strategy development, institutional change/organizational development and movement building with a focus on developing processes and setting clear outcomes to achieve racial equity. She was most recently a Senior Fellow at the new Race Forward. Previously, Simran served as the Center for Social Inclusion’s Vice President of Policy & Programs. During that time, she was also Deputy Director of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). Prior to joining CSI, Simran served as Program Manager at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where she worked with the Food, Health & Well-being, Racial Equity, and Civic & Community Engagement portfolios. She also served as Program Assistant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she supported the Policy Research and KIDS COUNT teams. Simran has also written and commented for a variety of media and was a featured panelist on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. Simran is also a regular speaker on issues of racial equity. She currently also serves as a board member for South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and as advisor for the Neighborhood Funders Group’s Funders for Justice group.